Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino's hard-charging letter to the anti-gay president of Chick-fil-A -- telling him his fast-food joint isn't welcome in Boston -- has exploded on the Web while his tough stance against the southern chain has become national news.
The Herald first reported on Menino's plans to block Chick-fil-A from opening last Friday and posted his letter to chicken sandwich magnate Dan Cathy at bostonherald.com.
The story picked up steam and Menino's letter went viral --thanks to a city employee who set it loose on Facebook.
"When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married," Menino wrote. "It would be an insult to them and to our city's long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street from that spot."
Menino's bold stance made "The Daily Show" Monday night, with host Jon Stewart quipping, "Open your eyes owner of Chick-fil-A -- you're being such an (expletive) not even Boston will tolerate you."
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton gave Menino kudos on his site the next day, writing "major props to the City of Boston ..."
The mayor's letter spread like wildfire on Facebook yesterday, fetching over 87,000 "likes" and more than 7,000 comments on a "community page about Boston" -- where Facebook members shared it more than 30,000 times.
And those numbers were quickly growing last night as the letter sparked debate. "Nicely put," one woman wrote. "I'm proud to be a Bostonian and a supporter of gay rights!"
Wrote another: "Chick-fil-A isn't saying they won't serve gay people, they just say they don't support the idea of gay 'marriage.' This is America; you don't ban a business b/c it has an opinion you don't agree with."
The brother of a city employee also posted the letter to his Facebook page, where it had 6,000 "likes" and counting while being reposted on Facebook nearly 3,000 times. The employee works for the city Department of Neighborhood Development.
Menino's letter also wound up on Gawker. That site whipped up the story even more, reporting on a spat between Chick-fil-A and the Jim Henson Co., which has pulled its Muppet toys from the fast-food outlet.
Meanwhile, an alderman in Chicago is apparently following Menino's lead and attempting to block a Chick-fil-A from opening in his district.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country's biggest gay rights organization, fired off a press release yesterday that praised Menino. "Mayor Menino's rebuke of Chick-fil-A sends a strong message that their habit of supporting hateful organizations that demonize LGBT Americans are out-of-step with not just Bostonians, but the majority of fair-minded Americans," said spokesman Fred Sainz.
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